Gaydamak Fights for Israeli Arab East Jerusalem Residents' Rights

Palestinian lawyers cooperate with J'lem mayoral candidate in bid to help Israeli Arabs vote in municipal elections.

Lawyers representing East Jerusalem residents in cooperation with officials from Arcadi Gaydamak's headquarters filed a request Monday to send international observers to oversee the Jerusalem municipality elections.

Gaydamak, an Israeli-Russian tycoon, has been actively campaigning in Arabic among Israeli Arab residents of East Jerusalem as part of his mayoral campaign.

The request for international observers was made after the Ministry of Interior and the Jerusalem municipality issued their decision not to place ballot boxes beyond the West Bank barrier. The decision will make it significantly harder for some 70,000 residents who have electoral rights to cast their vote, if not impossible.

These residents will be forced to pass through crossings in order to vote within the confines of Jerusalem's Old City, and families will be divided between ballot boxes located in different regions.

The decision may also affect candidate Arcadi Gaydamak. Recent surveys show the ladder is lagging far behind other candidates in the race for city mayor and is counting on the Palestinian public's vote to shift the balance in his favor.

As part of his campaign, Gaydamak is publishing support ads in the East Jerusalem Al-Quds newspaper which has widely reported his candidacy over the past few weeks. Gaydamak also continues meeting with East Jerusalem senior officials who support him, and his headquarters report that the number of voters in East Jerusalem may reach 30,000.

Prior to the request for international observers, East Jerusalem lawyer Dwaia Shweiki established a committee that petitioned the High Court of Justice regarding the issue of accessibility to ballots in the eastern part of the city. The group assumed one of the reasons that would be offered to explain why no ballots are placed in East Jerusalem would be the danger that Israelis manning them there would face.